Take a moment to pause, to breathe, and to exhale into the day. As we let go and head into a new week, set your intention for self-care, connection, and inquiry.
Audra Jamai White, guest blogger
I spent three years on active duty with the U.S. Army, including one year in Iraq, and now I’m in the Massachusetts National Guard. I’ve always strived to be a “super soldier”—perfectionism and being in control were what fueled me. Towards the end of my deployment, I started experiencing depression and anxiety. I’d spend 12 hours on duty and then I’d spend 12 hours in my room, crying. When I went to see the medics for a sports injury they reached out to me and helped, through providing medication and therapy.
Carly Sachs, guest blogger
Outside it is a perfect fall day—lots of colored leaves, blue sky with low-hanging clouds. It’s a day that feels like when I walk outside I’m stepping into a canvas, the day so gorgeous, it seems almost painted, too good to be true. Inside, I don’t feel so picture-perfect. And it’s hard being a yoga intern at a yoga retreat center and feeling bad. Even though I am using my tools—being compassionate to myself (sort of), breathing, meditating, and sharing—it still feels like something is wrong with me.
While I’m outside everything in the world looks perfect, and everything in my life looks perfect: a great romantic relationship, meaningful work, and loving family and friends. But something feels terribly raw and empty inside. The sense is that I’m not doing something I feel I should be doing, but I don’t know what’s missing. Or rather, somewhere I know there is a knowing in me, I just haven’t been able to unlock or translate the message. In this moment, it is a feeling.
I sit at my kitchen table smiling as I gaze lovingly at my newly acquired collection of cookbooks. With titles such as Jerusalem, Turquoise: A Chef’s Travels in Turkey, Mourad New Moroccan, and A Mediterranean Feast , each recipe- and photo-filled volume must weigh at least five pounds. These books are souvenirs that I brought back from my visit this past weekend to the Culinary Institute of America’s annual Worlds of Flavors conference near San Francisco. This year’s theme was Arc of Flavors: Re-imagining Culinary Exchange, from the Mediterranean and Middle East to Asia, and indeed we explored much of the world and its fabulous flavors.
The conference was quite the experience: Imagine 700 chefs watching 70 other chefs and restaurateurs from about 30 countries sharing their interpretations of the food and cooking styles of their region. And then we ate. And ate. And ate!
I’ve always been an exceedingly devoted friend, so much so that, when I was in high school, my father, perhaps in a fit of frustration and almost certainly with unintended cruelty, informed me that my friends would never be there for me the way I insisted on being there for them. I’m guessing, now, that he was only trying to protect me from hurt and disappointment, or perhaps encourage a sense of cynicism (that has since served me well as a journalist, if not as an optimist). But at the time it only made me feel sad. That might be his experience, I thought, but it wasn’t going to be mine. Once I made a friend, I made a friend for life.
At 35, I’ve largely stuck to this philosophy, collecting friends through my various life experiences—college, jobs, yoga classes, travels—and only rarely shedding them. Perhaps this need to connect with and amass people—a mix of confidantes and companions—is a byproduct of being an only child; I seek friends to fill the space siblings otherwise might have. For a few summers in my twenties, though, the habit had me spending the bulk of my weekends at weddings. It was not a cheap hobby.
Lori Shridhare, guest blogger
One late evening in August 1990, I sat alone in the Bologna train station in northern Italy, frustrated that I had missed my overnight train to France. I was winding down my summer of backpacking through Europe and my last year as a teenager. Hot and sweaty, I had no choice but to take a local train with no sleeping cars for the hour-long journey to Milan, then several more hours to Lyon. I climbed aboard the crowded train and sat in a car with a priest and three women. As I settled into my seat, Walkman hugging my ears, a tall, distinguished twenty-something young man sat in the remaining seat across from me. His wavy blondish-brown hair curled behind his ears, with strands falling along his designer glasses. What stood out most to me were his clear aqua eyes, his suspenders strapped over his lavender button-down shirt, and his sharp nose. He looked like a European fashion model, and I hoped he’d be sitting across from me all night.